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ICYMI: Rubio Joins The Lead with Jake Tapper
Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) joined The Lead with Jake Tapper to discuss the latest on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. See below for highlights and watch the full interview here.
On the availability of real-time information about the war in Ukraine:
“The Administration has been very forward leaning, in terms of what it has been putting out there. In fact, if you go back and read the things they’ve been disclosing the past two or three weeks, it pretty much laid out exactly what Putin was going to do…. So now, as that begins to happen, you try to synthesize that for American audiences.
“I’m asking the people of Florida, I’m asking the people that follow me, to care. People forget that seven to nine days ago, there were still voices in America saying either this wasn’t going to happen or this was none of our business. And so I think it is important to lean forward. If we’re going to ask the American people to be so supportive of the policy measures we’re taking and our focus on these sorts of issues, you have got to outline not just what’s happening but why it is happening, what Putin’s ultimate goal is, etc. To me, that is very important.
“The other thing this reveals is, we’ve entered an era where, for lack of a better term, ‘open intelligence’ is out there…. Whether it is the videos from the ground that are being shared by people or the overhead imagery from companies like Maxar and others, [this content is] revealing a tremendous amount. It is hard to hide things anymore in the world. You can’t mass 190,000 troops on the Ukrainian border and [have] it not be noticed by somebody.
“So all of these [tweets] are a combination of a new era [in which] information is now a combat space and the fact that I think it is really important to take what is out there in the public record and synthesize it with what is happening in real time, so people understand what’s occurring here and what’s going to come next.”
On Vladimir Putin’s mental state:
“I think it is important to understand the context of it. This is not about whether the guy is crazy or not crazy or got some other issues. That’s what a lot of people assume. This is about the following: We should not assume that the Vladimir Putin of 2022 is the same guy that he was 10 or five years ago. His risk calculus is very different….
“It’s because he is older now. His time is running out on this earth. He knows that. He’s about to turn 70; he won’t be around 30 more years to deal with all this. He views himself as a great historic figure in Russia. Every great Russian figure in history has conquered territory. He views it as his historic legacy to restore Greater Russia, and you can’t do that unless Ukraine is something that you control and have at least a vassal state [there]. And so he’s deeply committed to this….
“[Putin] has always prided himself on emotional control, almost stoicism. For him to flash the sort of anger that you’ve seen is an indication that we’re dealing with a different guy. I’ll tell you why that’s important. It’s not [out of] curiosity, not to mock him, not to troll him. It’s because he may be willing to take escalatory steps now that the old Vladimir Putin would not.
“A lot of people were out there saying he wasn’t going to invade. Well, the old Putin wouldn’t have invaded, but this one will. His calculus is very different than it was not long ago. That’s important for policymakers to keep in mind. There are some real dangers here of escalation.”
On the possibility of the war in Ukraine escalating to something broader:
“The Russian economy a week from now will be in a very terrible place. He is clearly suffering battlefield humiliations. He has a no-win strategy. He can’t win in Ukraine. He’s either going to have a very costly drawn out military engagement, victory, after a long term, or he’ll be caught in a quagmire where he is fighting off 40 million people. Rember, he’s not just fighting a military here, he’s fighting the people.
“So he’s going to have military humiliation, the economic collapse that is on its way to Russia, and he has very few options to go back and stabilize the strategic balance. He can’t sanction us. So what are his options? His options that remain are cyber and space and creating new provocations like these threats of nuclear weapons. That’s why it is concerning. It is my personal opinion that [Putin] will have to create some new crisis, will have to do something to reset the strategic balance and force everyone to the table with him. It could be a combination of things including a siege of Kyiv where 3 million people are being starved to death.”
On information sharing with Ukrainians:
“The president has the power to declassify and share intelligence with whomever he or she chooses to do so. We should lean forward in providing actionable intelligence. There are a couple factors to keep in place. Number one, can it be communicated in a secure way. And to be actionable, it has to be accurate. A lot of times people think intelligence is just as black or white. Oftentimes it is an assessment, a highly educated guess. You don’t want to make a mistake, especially since the Russians have shown the ability to adjust tactics.
“The Ukrainians have limited resources as is, you don’t want them chasing one thing when in fact things change on the ground and they find themselves in the wrong place. So there is some complexity, but generally speaking, I share concerns that some of that [intelligence] may not get there fast enough. But even today, there has been work done to make sure unnecessary impediments are removed.”